Well, the kids are back to school and I’m enjoying a cup of coffee and the glorious peace and quiet. I’ve been thinking about this blog post for several weeks now but life has just been too busy for me to settle down to write.
It’s been the good type of busy, family days out and about and getting organised for going back to the school run routine but it’s nice to finally have a little bit of free time to pull together all the stray thoughts and ideas that have been fluttering about in my head. I’ve been doing a bit of a clear out at home over the past week or so and it feels like my head is in desperate need of a good de-clutter also. So here goes with the first instalment of my head junk…
When we drove off the ferry in Rosslare a few weeks ago and embarked on our 5 hour drive home up through Ireland I was struck by just how green and luscious a country Ireland really is. I am sure everyone notices this on return from holidaying somewhere warm and dry, but it got me thinking about how visitors to Ireland must see the landscape here.
While on the ferry I was intrigued by the number of people reading thick Ireland holiday guides cover to cover. As someone who grew up in Ireland I was wondering how much there was to actually see here and having just visited some of the majestic Chateaux of the Loire Valley I had my fingers and toes crossed that Ireland wouldn’t let itself down in front of these eager visitors. Here all these tourists were anticipating a thrilling Irish adventure even as they zipped their raincoats to the throat before the ferry had even docked!
The sun shone though as we got off the ferry and I felt so proud to be Irish that I was waving at everyone with a foreign number plate and shouting “happy holidays” out of the window (much to the embarrassment of my children – the stereotype about Irish people being friendly exists for a reason… or is that crazy Irish people?).
Anyhow, I hoped the new visitors to Ireland were enjoying the splendour of the rolling green hills against the bright blue sky as much as I was. I wondered what it was like to be a tourist in Ireland.
In the days after our return and the post-holiday laundry marathon began so too the post-holiday blues began to settle in. It’s hard to let go of that carefree, relaxed holiday feeling…but there’s just so much to do all the time that it soon gets swallowed up in the busyness. That grey feeling took hold forcefully and as we returned to work, the leisurely days strolling around French villages quickly became a distant memory. Depressing, huh?
After browsing through my holiday snaps a thousand times, pining for the warmth and days with no agenda, I decided to give myself a shake and put things into perspective. I couldn’t be on holiday all the time, right? Right. But wouldn’t it also be nice to adopt a more ‘French’ approach to life? It would. Yes. But this isn’t France. It’s Ireland and there’s work to be done. I know. But. What if? What if instead of just saving all year long for two weeks in the sun we could actually inject a little bit of the ‘holiday feeling’ into the everyday? What if, I could be a tourist in my own country and actually enjoy it and see it as visitors do, all year long?
And so, this is how my inner dialogue has been going over the past number of weeks since returning from holiday. There are so many well-known sayings relating to living and loving the here and now… ‘life is too short’, ‘you only live once’, ‘carpe diem’, ‘here for a good time, not a long time’, ‘all work and no play…’
We all use them, all the time, so maybe they’ve lost their meaning a little. I have a couple of my own favourite quotes dotted about my house as little reminders to myself to slow down when I get too caught up in the busyness of life, which is often. One that I love is a line from the John Lennon song ‘Beautiful Boy’:
‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’
The whole point of this blog was based on the notion of finding the silver lining moments in the ordinary, every day stuff. So taking that idea and transferring it to the desire to enjoy the place where I live, to experience it more and to see it with fresh eyes is the challenge I’ve set for myself in the days ahead. Whether it is a planned trip or a spontaneous visit somewhere it is my hope to sort of become a tourist in my own city and the wider country – to become a curious explorer in the familiar!
In making these new plans it crossed my mind that as the dark, winter evenings set in I might not be too keen to go in pursuit of adventure. But it got me thinking about how as a family we slip into the homework, dinner, stay inside, nice and cosy rut during the colder weather. I’m sure for the most part that’s probably ok, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a few after-school mini adventures? Instead of coming straight home after school pick up, how about exploring the local parks and forests, climbing trees and enjoying nature? Well, that’s the kind of thing we like doing on holiday…so why not do it here, on an all year round kind of basis?
I admit I’m a bit of a control freak and like things neat and tidy, homework all done before tea, uniforms folded, packed lunches made the night before, P.E. kits packed, that kind of thing…but this Autumn/Winter I’m going to make more time for splashing in muddy puddles, bike rides and good old fashioned outdoor fun, which in Northern Ireland will inevitably involve a rain coat, woolly hat and welly boots!
I’m going to endeavour to enjoy the wild outdoors with my kids at least once a week after school and try to visit somewhere interesting at the weekends. My husband is way better at this than me. He sets a great example for me to follow. He will come from a full day at work and take the kids out for a bike ride or a game of football while I do the dishes or fold clothes. I guess I get my priorities muddled up sometimes when life is so hectic… but I can change that starting now, right?
We aren’t rolling in cash, but we do have time, and as the new school year commences I am reminded just how quickly the years are flying by. It’s not about having an abundance of money to do things, for me it’s about finding ways of spending real quality time together and enjoying life. I don’t want to just go from day to day, existing, enduring the humdrum, I want to live my life and for my kids to have an amazing, fun-filled childhood. I hope that I will establish good lifestyle habits for them to take into their adult lives, a passion for experiencing all that life has to offer, a love for nature and a zeal for living life to the fullest.
I guess the post-holiday blues were useful in that they caused me to reflect on what I want for us as a family as we start another school year. Taking some time to ponder what we really value is time well spent in my opinion, but as J.K. Rowling puts it so beautifully in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.’
In this crazy, mixed up world, I’m going to have some fun. I hope you do too!